The following is the conclusion of a nine-part series.
Taken from John Immel’s sixth session
at the 2014 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny
~ Edited by Andy Young
|Click here for the introduction
Click here for part two
Click here for part three
Click here for part four
|Click here for part five
Click here for part six
Click here for part seven
Click here for part eight
Will the New Calvinist movement produce political indifference?
Throughout history, the masses at some point realize that the fruits of these ideas wreak havoc on humanity. Then humanity rises up and pushes back, but for the most part in human history, it is a vicious cycle. The ideas that produce the fruit have never really been dealt with at the root. People just start picking up guns because they know it’s bad. And then something a little better rises from the ashes that fixes the immediate problem (for a little while at least) that started all the shooting.
We need to realize then that the founders of the American government were one of the few in history, if not the first ones that said, “Wait a minute here. We are going to deal with the ideas that lead to this tyranny.” That is why the United States of America is the only country ever founded on philosophy. They actually understood that the ideas behind tyranny were the problem, and they understood that the ideas behind liberty were the source of genuine political liberty. They went through great pains to try to craft a government that prevented the madness that had washed across the face of the globe for the whole of human history, and they succeeded.
The problems that we have had are the same problem that Christians are confronted with every time you see this cycle or the resurgence of the Calvinist movement. After the initial pushback, there remains no full philosophical statement. There is no fortress to fall back to and use as rebuttal to these ancient doctrines, and that is because most people do not know them. They just accept them.
I am confident there are people reading this right now holding their breaths saying, “How can he possibly reject the whole of Christianity?” And they are scandalized that I have been so bold, but the realities are what they are. Christians need to get their heads wrapped around this. Christianity as it is currently taught has always been on the forefront of tyranny. It has always been a competitor in tyranny or the leader in tyranny.
So, will the New Calvinist movement produce political indifference?
This is not an issue of political indifference. The issue is that Calvinism advocates self-sacrifice and submission to authority as an ideal. The Dark Ages were dominated by Augustine’s dogmatism, the assumption that select men have the moral authority to define intellectual content. the modern version of this is the doctrine of submission and authority. The only fundamental difference in the modern age is by contrast; Augustine had the power of the state to use violence to compel intellectual compliance.
Modern Neo-Calvinists are only barely restrained from claiming the right to violence to enforce church doctrine. Mark Driscol once made reference to putting people “in the wood chipper”. Now I’m not sure how exactly that metaphor passes muster on any level, but nonetheless what he is ultimately saying is he believes that the church authorities should have the right to use violence for disagreement.
(Editors Note: consider this article recently published on Paul’s Passing Thoughts.)
The pious preacher will object, “But I don’t believe that.” But neither are you running those preachers out on a rail for saying it. If you won’t take action when it is merely talk, how will you take action when it is actually the government-endorsed violence? I suggest, preacher, that you are a fraud. You say your job description is to protect the flock, and yet you do nothing. You take no action. All preachers who demand submission for protection are frauds. If they cannot intellectually defend their right to exist, they cannot hope to defend against tyranny.
And here is the central question of this theological shell game. If men cannot correctly judge ideological outcomes after the fact, if they cannot see the impact of Lutheran doctrine and its shaping of National Socialist Germany, how can they be defenders of the flock in our time?
Christianity’s growing abuse problems are no accident. The truth is before our eyes. This is Christianity in its infancy, the doctrine in action minus real civil power. And the reality is the blogosphere is already reeling from the stories. Today’s Christian national leaders are bold and clear about their ultimate goals, yet people reject the doctrine as irrelevant. They wipe out the universe to choose to call that action wisdom. For you pew-sitters, no matter how the preacher wants to hedge and caveat and smile, when they are asking for your submission to their authority, they are claiming the unique qualification to rational superiority. They are saying it is their moral right to define all intellectual conclusions. So if you submit to their authority, you cannotmake a claim to your own mind. You cannot utter the word “I” before the word “think.”
It is important to understand that authority is merely force. So whenever you hear some preacher thumping the Plexiglas podium, no matter how polite his words demanding your submission to his authority, you must realize he is really demanding your submission to his force. It does not matter how nice he makes it sound. He is overtly declaring his right to use force against your unrepentant body.
And I want to make one amended comment here. When I say right, I mean prerogative, just like in the divine prerogative of kings. Rights are specific and delimited exactly as John Locke described them. Individuals have rights. Groups, collective states do not have rights. All states, all just states, all moral states are created at the behest of the individuals and given delimited powers.
Pastors do not have rights. They do not have the right to compel. And make no mistake, the modern New Calvinist movement is just as politically motivated as the Evangelical Lutherans were in the 1920s. They are motivated by the exact same themes. They condemn individuality and egoism. They advocate sacrifice and statism. They condemn freedom as license. They advocate socialist economic policies, and above all else, they condemn capitalism. And the condemnation of capitalism is the condemnation of the individual. There is no such thing as liberty without capitalism.
American Christians are under the delusion that they can have Enlightenment reasoning, Enlightenment liberty, Enlightenment property, Enlightenment prosperity, Enlightenment government, and Enlightenment freedom together with medieval Christianity. It is not possible. These are mutually exclusive philosophical expectations. America, you must pick.
“But, John, no one is out there preaching medieval Christianity.”
Oh yes, they are. It is called orthodoxy. American Christians like the sound of orthodoxy. It sounds good to them, but that is only because the average pew-sitter has no clue what orthodoxy really means. Orthodoxy means they must abandon reason, which is the root of all Enlightenment beliefs. Under orthodoxy, there is no such thing as, “but I believe,” or, “but this is what I believe.” So every time you want to object to my broad generalizations about this brand of Christianity, you do not have the right to your objections. You have already abandoned your rational capacity to somebody else’s authority.
The American church is, unfortunately, under the delusion they are entitled to make up their own minds. This, unfortunately, is a condition that affects the college crowd quite a bit. They think their opinion matters, and it really does not. College kids are only allowed to hold their own opinions inasmuch as they pose no challenge to leadership, and the definition of challenge is constantly moving. There is no such thing as a little bit of subordination. It is kind of like being a little bit pregnant. You either are or you are not. Once you concede the premise that you must submit your rational faculties to authority, the only question left is how much subordination, and as far as the Neo-Calvinist leadership is concerned, it must be in toto. You are lying to yourself if you think otherwise.
Here is my challenge. I double dog dare you. Walk into any New Calvinist church and object to their doctrine. And then, you bold man, go tell everybody that you did. And then, you really bold man, keep telling everybody you did. Tell everybody that they have the right to make up their own mind about which one is right, the preacher or you. And after you do, and after the cuts and bruises heal, and after you finally put your head back on straight (because they will wreck you in the process), come to me, and I will tell you how to handle it.
I submit that the current church leadership is eroding the church’s intellectual base at the root. This is in direct answer to what Paul asked me at the beginning of this series. The top tier of the Calvinist leadership are mostly old men. The younger generation are typically young men, and despite their aspirations to leadership, they are picked to be part of the super spiritual crowd only because they are intellectually compliant. Intellectual strength and insular communities do not go together. Most of the Neo-Calvinist churches are very insular, and the intellectual limitations that are imposed by the leadership on the parishioners can do nothing but erode the intellectual rigor. The more a group isolates itself, the more the intellectual energy stagnates. The leadership is selecting a subsequent generation of church leaders because they are not independent thinkers. They run independent thinkers out on a rail as fast as they can get it done.
Make no mistake. New Calvinist movement is deliberately eroding the foundations of church intellectual base. I predict that within a generation, the church will be intellectually helpless. We are talking about 30 to 40 years. Without independent thought, man has no choice but to turn to the collective for his intellectual content. If you have made a habit of deferring thought to other men under pressure, you will default to what you have practiced.
Tyrants create intellectual dependency the same way they create the welfare state. The welfare state erodes self-sufficiency by robbing people of the opportunity to work. By grooming intellectual subordinates and advancing those specific mentalities to leadership, they are creating the same environment of dependency. Tyrants and despots always find ideas threatening, not because they fear ideas specifically. Most of them ignore ideas on principle. Tyrants find ideas threatening because men who can think are by definition individuals. There is no such thing as collective thinking. Only individuals think.
Achievement is the foundation of self-confidence. So the thinking man grasps his achievement. Rational independence is directly proportional to self-confidence. And you see this in children all this time. The better they do in school, the more happy they are about themselves. The more they demonstrate the ability to reason correctly, the more satisfaction they get in their life and their own happiness. This is a function of human existence. Men are thinking machines. It is the means by which we engage the world on the broadest levels, and our ability to master our own environment and our own minds and our own rational faculties are directly tied to our sense of happiness and well-being.
I give you a challenge for those of you who I know are out there reading and paying atention. If you are suffering from fear and doubts and unbelief, go put your brain to work. Go do something. Go achieve something. Do not worry about what anybody says. Go achieve. And I guarantee you that the day after you achieve, you will wake up happy. And for many of you, you will be scared that you are happy because you have been told you should not be happy with yourself. This is how much this doctrine is wrecking you.
You cannot tyrannize a self-confident man because he will never concede the premise of a tyrant’s right to make him a slave. A self-confident man will not crumble under moral assault. A self-confident man will not internalize moral criticism. A self-confident man understands his moral worth.
But the rationally subordinate man can never have rational confidence because he must defer all thoughts to someone in authority. This man has no rational success, so he is incapable of self-confidence. The rationally subordinate man will always crumble under moral assault. The rationally subordinate man will always internalize moral criticism. The rationally subordinate man will always abandon his moral worth.
This is why ad hominem attacks are so prevalent in the New Calvinist movement against all opponents. The leadership is taking advantage of the moral weakness of those who submit. They are habituated to condemning the man. They do not recognize rational arguments on principle. They do not recognize rational arguments as such. There is no rational appeal. There is only submission to authority.
Therefore, the only argument they must win is why the user of reason is morally condemned for his objection. If a New Calvinist cannot win a proof text exchange in the first three minutes, he will immediately switch to a personal attack. They will morally condemn their adversary. The moment they are confronted with ideas with reason and with logic, they quit the field. I see this with stunning consistency.
We must recognize where we are in American history. I told you that the assault against the Enlightenment came almost immediately after Locke. The assault against the Western way of life that was born from the Enlightenment and the liberties that we enjoy, the assault against reason, the assault against the individual have been unrelenting, and if you banish reason from human interaction, the only thing left to deal with men is force. We are at the very tail end of and the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment, and we have a crucial choice to make about what comes next.
If you banish reason, the only thing left is the Dark Ages.
Now you look around and you consider the technology and you see the developments of this modern day and age, and you have a hard time picturing a return to the Dark Ages. But the farther and farther away we get from reason in our culture, the more the cultural descent into violence because it will be the only way to deal with your neighbor. So when I say that we are going to lose Western society, I mean a society that upholds the primacy of existence, the effectiveness of reason, the political sovereignty of the individual, man’s inviolate right to private property, a secular state founded on delimited government whose sole purpose is to defend the individual in his life, property and liberty.
Our generation, my generation, this generation is presiding over the destruction of the single greatest political achievement this world has ever seen. The collectivist long knives have been hacking away at the foundations of the Western society almost from its inception. The collectivist doctrines have finally succeeded in uprooting the foundations of political liberty.
When I have these conversations in public, somebody will say to me, “But, John, we need to get to the next generation. We need to teach these kids.” And I have to stop them. It is not the kids’ job to save the world. It is your job. If you are my age, I guarantee you, if we lose this battle for reason and liberty, when the history books are finally written about this generation, they will hold us responsible. They will say, “What in the heck did they do? How could they have done this? They had it, and yet they let the collectivists, the socialists, the communists, and the Christian orthodox wreck it in the name of brotherly love and kindness and heaven and worker’s utopia. How?”
This is not optional. It is not a 15-year-old’s job to save the world. It is the 15-year-old’s job to be 15. This is the adult’s job. We inherited this world from men who had an enormously capable opinion of humanity, and it is our job to live up to their expectations. It is our job to make sure the ideas to defend liberty, the rights of men, prevail. And if we don’t succeed, it will be our fault and nobody else’s. Far too many people are quiet. They hear political leftists, communists, socialists, and collectivists speak, and they refuse to raise a challenge. Shaking your head and wringing your hands over the state of the world is not a rebuttal. You have a moral obligation to speak out against the collectivist ideologies.
Collectivist ideologies only win because proponents of liberty quit the arena of ideas. Offer a better argument. At the very least, Christians need to understand that a proof text is not an argument. A proof text is nothing more than an appeal to authority. The easiest way to defeat such an argument is to reject the source of authority. Christians do this to Muslims all the time. A Muslim quotes his Quran, and Christians go, “Well, I don’t believe that.” Well, the reciprocal is equally valid. You point to your proof text, and your audience goes, “I don’t care.” Using a proof text really means that you really have nothing else to say.
You need to gain some self-awareness about the nature of your own arguments. How many things do you have to accept at the base level to arrive at “but the Bible says”? All of that background goes into your conviction that this is something you should believe, but if nobody else holds that, then the proof text has no rational effectiveness. If your audience does not accept any of those things, then you have not made an argument. Proof texts only persuade – and I use that word loosely – those who (a) accept the interpretive methods and (b) accept the interpretive conclusion. If at the end of the argument you are left with “I will pray that God reveals it to you,” then what you have really said is you had nothing to say.
Neo-Calvinists like to pretend they are the only intellectual and theological game in town. I should hope after the last three years of these conferences that you know that is just flat untrue. Over the last three years, I have given you the scope of Western thought. They are not the only game in town. They reflect a mere thimble-full of thought in the intellectual game. Most of them in the modern age are fourth-rate thinkers at best. They would be lost without the giants upon whose shoulders they are standing or clinging desperately to their knees. The broader intellectual perspective that I have tried to bring to you is a powerful tool to combat the errors implicit to the Neo-Calvinist movement.
And so here we have it, ladies and gentlemen. The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for men to change the definition of good. Until you can defend that it is good for men to exist for his own sake, evil will always triumph. Ladies and gentlemen, I have given you the basics. Now go forth and defend Man.
~ John Immel
|Click here for the introduction
Click here for part two
Click here for part three
Click here for part four
|Click here for part five
Click here for part six
Click here for part seven
Click here for part eight
“The Under Grace bus going to heaven does not have Under Law as a passenger.”
“A single dimension law is a false gospel. It produces works that are anti-law. It replaces love with the traditions of men in Jesus’ name.”
I could write a dozen posts about what has transpired in my life and those close to me in the past couple of weeks, but I think I can stay on-topic and write about the primary subject from which all of these events flow.
Have you ever noticed that Jesus didn’t participate in a large field of theological issues? If you examine Christ’s primary concerns, His positive message was the gospel of the kingdom, and His primary negative concerns were two and two only: the traditions of men and lawlessness.
The present-day church is completely indoctrinated and saturated with lawlessness which results from the traditions of men. The stage is set for the exact same play that was taking place when Jesus was ministering—only the props are different because of technology. The institutional church of that day is the exact same institutional church of today—only the names are different.
Yes, in fact, there is a heretic behind every bush. Yes, in fact, the sheep are without valid shepherds. Yes, in fact, the VAST majority of what comes out of the mouths of Christians is mindless dribble leading to death. We are confused, ignorant, failures in life building, without answers, but yet…
… “Christianity” has never been bigger. Christian movies abound in the secular market; Christian musicians abound in the secular top 40; and dynamic Christian teachers are hanging on trees everywhere in a seemingly utopic evangelical Garden of Eden. “Revival” is in the air. Holy hands are lifted up to GeeeeJussss everywhere. When you ask any Christian anything, they look at you with those glazed-over eyes and psychotic grin while saying, “GeeeJussss.”
And so it was when Jesus was ministering. The religious culture was awash in orthodoxy. What is more obvious than the fact that when Jesus showed up, He completely ignored the institutional leaders of that day and went to the common people? His Sermon on the Mount was a shocking indictment of the orthodoxy prevalent in that day: “You have heard it said…but I say….” The orthodoxy of our day is the same lawless orthodoxy of that day, and Christ deconstructed it point by point. The religious leaders of that day had redefined every word used to convey the thoughts of God.
And so it is today: Christians have a fundamental misunderstanding of every word used to convey spiritual truth. We are so mentally handicapped in our thinking that discussion over “What is the gospel?” is just another discussion. We are not completely undone in sackcloth and ashes that we are still asking that question 2000 years later, but we should be. Think about it: though an astute preserving of the law was a Jewish tradition, when Jesus showed up, the people understood little of it. Why? Orthodoxy, that’s why. Please think about what Jesus said to the who’s who of religious leaders in that day: “You do error concerning the Scriptures and the power thereof.” People observed in awe as the deliberately informally educated Jesus publically rebuked the spiritual brain trust of that day.
Hence, Pastor Jesus brought true revival, and true revival in our day will not happen to the glory of God until we stop listening to men and start listening to Jesus. One man, one Bible. It starts there…because the most innocent of those who lead in this day are simply regurgitating the raw sewage flowing from the broken cisterns of orthodoxy.
I suppose now I can keep my sanity by hating the orthodoxy, but loving the lawless sinner. After all, I am guilty myself of propagating its satanic filth as a former Reformed pastor. I myself helped to create the monsters I despise. I myself quoted the heroes of orthodoxy to make myself look smart as the hordes of hell applauded.
As you read all of this, you might think I have had a rough couple of weeks. You might think it has caused me to ponder. And it has. But I am a very busy man, and it behooves me to discuss the least common denominator here. In my stricken soul what are the words that I want to cry out to the world? What do I want to scream out in love to some and defiant rage towards others? Here it is…
Law is love.
Law is not far from us that we must have the arrogant ascend to heaven in a rocket ship built by their own visions of grandeur to bring it down to us. Law is very close to us, it is in our mouths, and we are able to do it. It is life to us, and its justice even holds all of our sin in escrow. The record is cancelled by the cross, and now, closeness is measured by distance: God’s love for us can only be measured by the distance from the east to the west. The departure of our sins are as infinite as the closeness of God’s love. There is no condemnation from the law of justice—only love. In the huge void that was once our guilt we cry out it in desperation: How can we love such a merciful God! Is there now nothing we can do with the burden removed? Please tell us! Is it wrong to try to please you with our whole being? And then the clamorous storm is calmed with these simple words,
“If you love me, keep my commandments.”
Christ is no longer a Lord of justice to us, He is a Lord that wants His subjects to fulfil His kingdom law of love without condemnation.
Sometime in the cradle of society, the redefining of law by religious minions was hell’s finest hour. They redefined law as having a single dimension, that of justice only. Orthodoxy has but one theme; death. Mankind is enslaved to the condemnation of the law’s perfect standard. The law, for the unbeliever, presently condemns while promising life.
“The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me.”
Orthodoxy only tells the story of the law’s death, and conceals its herald of wisdom and life:
“I set before you this day life and death, choose life!”
Law is justice and death to the unbelieving, but life, blessings, and love to those who rightly believe the gospel. Justice is death to the unbeliever, but to the believer—it is an act of love. One thing we mustn’t forget is that Arminianism is part of the Reformation’s orthodoxy. Therefore, it shares the same Calvinistic belief that “Christians” are still under the possible condemnation of the law. Love becomes tricky. But love isn’t tricky—it’s apart from any possible condemnation whatsoever. The loving Christian now experiences the life that the law promises. If you doubt that, read Psalm 119.
So, how do we minister to a lawless church and society? We start by incessantly defining law to God’s people. That’s where it starts. We must say, “You have heard it said, ‘the law can only condemn,’ but we say, ‘the law is the way of love and gives life.’” We must cry out to professing Christians to remove themselves from being under the law and its condemnation. We must also expose the traditions of men and their orthodoxy that sells a false road to heaven while under law. “Under grace” is not salvation while being under law, the two are mutually exclusive. The Under Grace bus going to heaven does not have Under Law as a passenger. The Under Law passenger trying to get on the Under Grace bus with an orthodoxy ticket is like the man who showed up at Christ’s feast without a wedding coat. Such will be rejected.
A single dimension law is a false gospel. It produces works that are anti-law. It replaces love with the traditions of men in Jesus’ name. The traditions of men, whether religious or secular is the only thing that can fill the void where there is no love. ANY thought that replaces an accurate assessment of God’s law is “anomia” a word often translated “lawlessness” in the Bible.
“BECAUSE of anomia, the love of many will wax cold.”
Though a single dimension law speaks of love and “many wonderful works in Jesus’ name,” they are works proffered by lawless orthodoxy defined by the traditions of men. And on one wise, no more slaughter of men has taken place by any other name than orthodoxy’s use of Jesus’ name, and the full measure of wrath slumbereth not accordingly. Be certain that you do not stand in such a camp actively or passively.
In orthodoxy, condemnation remains with the law. It is not enough to proclaim the law good, we must profess that without it we cannot love God and others. We must embrace it as the sum and substance of our own lives. When our precious Lord of love returns, we must offer Him the Holy sacrifices of our members offered up in love, not the body that cancelled the law of sin and death. Why would we offer back His own body and deny Him the sacrifices that we were purchased to perform? Try to dig His body up from the grave as an offering if you will, but it is not there, HE has risen! And if you have not died with Him and left the law of sin and death behind, and embraced the law of the Spirit of life that is your love…your works, or lack of them, will condemn you. Your love does not save you, and your lack of it does not condemn you, it merely shows that you believe that you are still under the condemnation of the law of sin and death—that’s a false gospel that is defined by a one dimensional view of the law.
“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.”
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”
Love is defined one way, and one way only: a grammatical plain sense interpretation of the law and its life application.
We are all guilty, and thereby suffer the torment by those we have helped to create. We have listened to men and offered a confused gospel that will not produce blessed lives. We are heinous cowards who do not really believe that such a man as Noah really existed. We offer fellowship offerings to the god of orthodox majority—his human credentials intimidate us, and thereby show that we spend little time with Jesus. Our cowardly offerings recognize their use of facts in the commission of treason for fear others will think ill of us.
This is where true ministry to a lawless church and society must begin, with one man and one Bible resulting in one love—the love Christ has called you to fulfil.
Will you be that man or not?
“Seeing yourself as evil can initially save you, but you must also continue to see yourself as evil in order to keep yourself saved, and faithfulness to the church continues to atone for your evil. That’s church orthodoxy. Why do we therefore marvel that there is evil in the church? It is a gathering of self-proclaimed evil doers! The church’s orthodoxy calls for this worldview of man’s plenary evil in no uncertain terms while post Revolution Americanism muddied the evangelical waters. Truly, there is no people group on earth more confused about their true identity than church-going Catholics and Protestants. Christ framed this issue with the epitome of simplification: if you find bad fruit on a tree, examine the tree.”
We must remember that the Dark Ages were a European thing. And we must remember that Greco-Roman philosophy was the source and then it was turbo charged with the integration of European style religiosity. European religion has always been grounded in Plato’s disdain for humanity. Hence, one philosopher stated well that faith and force together are the destroyers of the modern world. One of the most notable historians of our time, K.R. Popper, fingered Plato specifically in regard to the logic that has wreaked havoc on Western culture through Communism, Islam, Catholicism, and Reformed theology. Augustine, one of the fathers of the Reformation, called Plato a pre-Christian Christian, and the juggernaut of faith and force was thus born.
And primarily, American religion was imported from Europe via the Puritans who were a European style religious political sect. They wanted to create a theocracy of their own in the new world. That’s the “religious freedom” they sought in America—a political one. Ironically, this importation of a European pandemic is romanticized by the Thanksgiving holiday. Somehow, deep in our evangelical American psyche, we think the Puritans could have led us to the religious utopia that we all lust for. And in-fact, deep in our evangelical psyches, we think the war still rages between our Puritan foundations and the evils of Enlightenment philosophy. And if Enlightenment philosophy would surrender, all would be well and the heavenly Jerusalem would finally come down to Earth.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Enlightenment thought, even with its many abhorrent shortcomings, launched America to unprecedented greatness as a nation because of three basic principles that God agrees with: man is free; man is capable; and man is responsible for the sum and substance of his own life before God. Men “small and great” will all stand before God. Plato’s philosopher kings do not stand before God in our stead regardless of the priestly garb that the Reformers have adorned them with.
In the movie, Moneyball, based on a true story, the General Manager of the Oakland A’s baseball team set all time league records with a meager budget and has-been players by breaking tradition with the ways big league teams have always been built. The player’s manager of the team was against the plan, and was a constant hindrance to its implementation. But when the Oakland A’s became the talk of the sports world because of the plan, the player’s manager got all of the credit. In the same way, the manager of American Christianity, the one of 95 Theses fame, Martin Luther, is given credit for America’s greatness. God has blessed America because of the Puritan missionary children that he spawned. Their roots are the lifeblood of America. We were “founded on their Christian principles.” This is a significant departure from reality.
Luther despised reason. He believed that reasoning was a dangerous stunt that the unenlightened masses shouldn’t try at home. And because they are not capable, they have to be protected from themselves; hence, neither are they free. To the degree that we are free the world is in a spree. Man must be saved from himself; by force if necessary, and for the good of the world. Martin Luther to the rescue. Stalin to the rescue. Muhammad to the rescue. The Moral Majority to the rescue. And on every Thanksgiving Day, deep, deep in our American psyche, a small still voice cries out: “Oh but for the Puritans! What could we be?” It’s all the same logic. You can dress it up in different doctrines, but it’s all the same. Logic comes in many doctrinal forms—both secular and religious.
The founding fathers of this country were children of the Enlightenment era. Until America popped up on the history radar screen, force and faith was the big league tradition. Our founding fathers proposed something different: government as the protector of man’s right to be free, capable, and responsible. And a government that served at the pleasure of the people to do so. It is a testimony to the power that is displayed when merely three ideas from God are implemented in our realty. Three ideas from God made America the envy of all world history. In the end, the motif that any child can perceive in the book of Revelation will fill the world with blood up to the horse’s bridles: force and faith. To what is said here, the proffers of force and faith, the Reformed of our day, answer in all of their Puritan glory, “I beg your pardon! Jesus Christ should be the envy of the world!” But which Jesus Christ? The Puritan Jesus Christ? And enlightened minds want to know: “Are we free to decide that for ourselves?” And: “Are we capable of even knowing that?” We fear that the answer to both of these questions is, “No.” And that is why giving you power in our lives at any level is a really bad idea.
Hence, To the degree that the Reformed Dark Age feigns, darkness in the American church does rein. And we are in that Dark Age. It came in essence as logic stowed away in the Mayflower’s diseased European rats bringing the same plague with it. I could drag out all of the apocalyptic data and its many faceted manifestations, but a recent televised top of the hour newscast introduction will suffice:
Here we go again, another sex scandal in the Evangelical church.
You notice they said, “Evangelical” and not “Catholic.” Anybody that knows the facts knows that sexual abuse and the subsequent cover-ups are just as prevalent in the Protestant Evangelical Church as it is in the Catholic Church. The scandals are the same, and the silence among clergy is the same, along with the same disregard for victims. Different doctrines—same logic—same results. Logic always has an endgame; there are many different doctrines that can get you there.
But the American Dark Age takes on a different appearance than the open fires of European religious wars and unspeakable terrors for it is tempered with freedom, capability, and responsibility. In the same way that God’s spies found refuge with a harlot, the American church has been saved from itself by Enlightenment thought. The result has been Reformed Light, and the carnage has been greatly limited. The European Reformers believed that children should be seen and not heard; American Reformed Light allows their children to play in a sandbox. Children are happier when they have a sandbox to play in, and they can form all kinds of ideas in what they make in the sand. But when it is time for dinner, it’s also time to put our little buckets and shovels away, run to the dinner bell, and obey mommy and daddy. They protect us from truth that can cause division because we are unable to handle truth, and they make truth a storybook that we can understand. They read it to us at night, and we are much comforted. We can pretend in the backyard, and we feel safe because mommy is watching from the kitchen window.
But the children of Reformed Light do not grow up. For certain, the American church is every bit like grown adults playing in a sandbox. The real Reformers now come forward and scoff at the pathetic sight, and say they are the answer. Yes, not playing with ideas at all must be the answer. Adults in a sandbox is not the problem, the sandbox is the problem. Sandboxes tempt people to play with truth. The Reformers to the rescue—those half breed Semi-Pelagian parents be damned.
Children in adult bodies will always rape, hate, pillage and steal. It is what it is: spiritually, they were born slaves, born incapable, and born irresponsible. Reformed theology is a bus of misfits, but all believe that it is the only bus going to heaven—the bus of faith alone in Puritan sanctification. All kinds are on the bus, but the tie that binds is womb to the tomb total depravity.
Some do not persevere in accepting their total depravity and the total depravity of others. Some do not trust God’s anointed to get the bus of misfits to heaven, so an Inquisition is needed. The European Reformers used the gallows and the burning stake (if the victim was lucky), brainwashing, and orthodoxy. The American Reformers can use brainwashing and orthodoxy, but because of the founding fathers, the American Reformers must replace the gallows and burning stake with character assassination, authority to condemn eternally, and false criminality. And all of the aforementioned paints the portrait of the present-day American Dark Age in the church. There is a little metal plate on the bottom of the spectacular painting hanging in the gallery of human history, and it reads:
Here we go again.
The Bible is written for mass consumption. All Bible books, save a few, were written to assemblies and not leadership. God has also written his word on the hearts of every person ever born into the world (Romans 2:14). We are all responsible before God, free to obey Him or not obey Him, and obviously, must exercise our minds for understanding. We also live in the information age; so, if man was without excuse in the days of the apostolic church (Romans 2:1) we are certainly without excuse today.
Nations, particularly the USA, have used heavy bombers to drop propaganda leaflets on cities before an invasion or in an attempt to turn the population at large against the enemy leadership. Each bomb usually weighs about 250 lbs. and rains about 60,000 leaflets on a given area. During the Iraq/US war, leaflet bombings resulted in the mass surrender of Iraqi soldiers. In the same way, regardless of what’s going on in the world, God has a message of truth for every person. Invariably, it is man’s responsibility to do what God wants him to do in any given situation.
God has given the truth to all men, and only the truth will set us free. We need to pick up and read the leaflet and surrender to the Chief Shepherd. The Reformation is responsible for this present Dark Age in the American church. It is a doctrine that must be rejected with prejudice, and we must disdain anything that has touched its filthy garments.
A little leaven leavens the whole lump.